A 50-year-old American woman writes to me as follows:
I first heard about St John’s Wort as a treatment for depression when I was reading about natural remedies for menopausal symptoms. I began taking 300 mg but did not find it all that helpful. This past summer my husband suggested I up the dosage to 600 mg and that was the magic amount for the summer Now that we have turned the clocks back again [at the onset of autumn] I am taking an additional 300 mg in the afternoon, which helps.
I have been in and out of therapy since I was 25. Therapy with the right therapist(s) is helpful, but it is also expensive and time-consuming. My employer has a cap on the number of hours of therapy a person can undergo, and I am getting closer to that cap every week. I am hoping that this next calendar year is my last year of needing therapy. I was not in therapy for several long periods of my life. Often, a tragedy such as a death in the family or major surgery would send me back in.
I prefer natural herbs to drugs wherever I can. I have refused to take Prozac or Lustral. I really don’t want to rely on a drug to control my mood.
Whether or not one agrees with Shirley’s opinions about psychotherapy, herbal remedies or anti-depressant medications, she does seem to embody the trend that Naisbitt mentions in his book. I do believe that she speaks for a very large number of people who are concerned about the cost of mental health care, interested in natural remedies and eager to take their lives into their own hands as much as possible. St John’s Wort provides a solution to all of these concerns. Relatively inexpensive, highly effective, safe and mild in terms of side-effects, it offers millions of people the opportunity to help themselves.
It is, of course, critical to know when self-care has reached its limit and when to seek the help of an expert. Shirley appears to be able to make this distinction. It is an important caveat for others to bear in mind as well.